It's Better at the Goods
Bodega raises the bar for downtown and NW Tulsa
Every Oklahoman knows that QuikTrip is the best convenience store ever founded on this planet—no one here’s going to argue against that. But even that venerable institution has its blind spots, and doesn’t match up to other businesses when it comes to providing fresh and local fare. Some might write that off as the cost of convenience—that added sugars and preservatives are a necessary tradeoff when you want to buy a sandwich in a minute flat. With her recently opened corner shop, The Goods Bodega, local merchant Shawn Zenthoefer is setting out to prove that notion wrong.
Located just around the corner from the downtown Philbrook and the Guthrie Green, The Goods Bodega is a small, independent, locally sourced micro shop serving residents of downtown and northwest Tulsa who otherwise don’t have a good market available in walking distance.
The “bodega” name was chosen deliberately to distinguish the business. It’s not a restaurant or a grocery store, but rather a micro-sized alternative to both. On an average day, they offer up three or four varieties of cold sandwiches to grab and go, with two hot sandwiches available while the grill is fired up from 11am to 2pm. They also have the grill going on the first Friday of every month, making it an ideal spot to grab a nice, hot sandwich to fuel your downtown art crawl. Other fresh-made stuff inside the store includes house-made salads and tabouli prepared by Chef John Gibbens.
In addition to the foods they prepare on site, the store also offers a small amount of produce, dairy, jarred goods and household items, many of them with local connections—like, say, Lovera’s pasta sauces and stuffed olives, Fair Fellow Coffee, eggs and meat from the nearby Grassroots Ranch, or Farrell Family bread, which they use for their hot sandwiches. There’s also a small countertop by the window for you to take a seat and really enjoy your half-hour office reprieve if the weather’s not right for a sandwich and a midday stroll.
Zenthoefer opened up the store in September, motivated by both a growing interest in independent small markets and her chance to seize the location at the recently renovated Archer Building. She’s also actively trying to do her part to bring some relief to Tulsa’s urban food desert—downtown may be a great place to go out to eat, but until now it’s been a pretty lousy spot to get your groceries. In lieu of a Reasor’s, Sprouts or Trader Joe’s, many residents of the area have had to resort to doing their shopping at dollar stores or drug stores, eating preservative-choked factory foods and sacrificing their health bite by bite.
In 2018, The Goods Bodega will be able to sell wine and high-point beer, further augmenting its jack-of-all-trades skillset. But right now, the store is establishing a reputation as a one-stop shop for the workers of downtown Tulsa and folks living in the area who do most of their getting around on foot.
“We’ve had a lot of positive response,” Zenthoefer said of her experience over the last few months. “Sometimes I’m having a bad day or something, and somebody will come in and be so overwhelmed with the local food or the small amount of produce or the milk that’s available, and it really gives me a sense of satisfaction. Like ‘Oh, OK—my mission was there for a reason. People really do need a place within a radius of five miles to get eggs.’”
On top of being stocked with tasty stuff that’s good for you, the store is also a truly local establishment, with only three employees on the payroll, including Zenthoefer. Because of its small size, the store isn’t always able to offer the cheapest price, but many of the store’s items aren’t even sold at a profit. This place wasn’t founded so people could get rich—it was founded to fulfill a purpose. As Zenthoefer likes to say, it’s a project for Tulsa, and an exceedingly ethical one at that.
“I’ve always tried to buy responsibly sourced eggs or meat,” said Zenthoefer. “I’m really proud of that, because I know where they came from, that I’m selling a quality product, and that it’s super-fresh.”
The Goods Bodega is located at 107 N. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., and open every day 11am–7pm. For more information, check out the store online at thegoodstulsa.com.